As a child of the ’80s, eating Italian meant cracking open a can of Chef Boyardee, ordering a “pizza” or digging in to a plate of mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. Then came the foodie revolution, and all the world’s cuisines opened up to my palate.

Now, to me, eating Italian means fresh pasta, braised veal shanks, handmade gnocchi and, yes, even pizza. But not just any pizza! Gone are the mounds of greasy slop from yesteryear. Any pie worth eating should be wood-fired in a brick oven and be topped with fresh, simple ingredients.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we have a multitude of fantastic Italian eateries here in the South Bay. Italian culture has deep roots in this region, stretching all the way back to the very beginnings of the Valley of Heart’s Delight. Italian families were firmly entrenched from Willow Glen’s Goosetown to the area now known as Columbus Park. Downtown San Jose has its Little Italy neighborhood and the annual Italian Family Festa has been going strong for 40 years now.

I’ve put together this list of eateries ranging from white tablecloth establishments where patrons dine on fine wine and handmade pastas to the small neighborhood deli where one can hungry patrons can nosh on housemade ravs and a killer meatball sub.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Italian cuisine—but hey, it sure beats Hawaiian pizza.

Osteria Toscana
247 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto
This Tuscan original has been serving downtown Palo Alto for more than 30 years from the bottom floor of the Cardinal Hotel. Osteria is run by the Carruba brothers, and a large percentage of their produce, eggs and meat are grown locally at the family’s Grandview Farms in San Jose. Their carpaccio app and any of their veal dishes should be listed on every check, and be sure to finish the meal with their sublime hazelnut flan.

Enoteca La Storia
Multiple locations
Enoteca is more of a wine bar than restaurant, as the name literally translates to “wine history.” This is the place to go for wine connoisseurs. Their cheese platters and crostini samplers pair perfectly with any of their vintages, and their helpful staff is more than happy to help patrons pair up their chow.

Paesano Ristorante Italiano
350 W Julian St, Ste 1, San Jose
Located in the heart of San Jose’s Little Italy neighborhood, this charming spot features a romantic patio area for al fresco dining; hundreds of Italian and local wines and a menu full of authentic Italian eats. Their pappardelle Alexandra is truly divine.

Lillian’s Italian Kitchen
1148 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz
While not technically in the South Bay, I couldn’t help but share one of my all-time favorites when visiting the Santa Cruz area. Lillian’s has been in business only 10 years, but in that time they’ve had to quickly upgrade from a hole in the wall to a huge family-size restaurant to keep up with their popularity. The food really is that good, as all their fresh pastas and sauces are made in-house. Their Sunday gravy with any of their fresh pastas is a must here, and their house-made tiramisu dessert is also terrific.

Sorelle Italian Bistro
915 S San Tomas Aquino Rd, Campbell
This family-run establishment is owned by former HP executive Francesca Rudé and features cherished family recipes prepared with their housemade pastas and sauces. Though their location is in the middle of a Campbell residential area, it is well-worth the trek. The arancini appetizer is terrific and their Sorelle short rib Bolognese is served with giant, fork-tender hunks of beef in their rich tomato sauce.

Milan Italiano
4898 San Felipe Rd, San Jose
This newer entrant is located in San Jose’s Evergreen neighborhood and serves up local and organic ingredients, a nice selection of craft cocktails and has one of the nicer outdoor patios on this list. The saffron sea bass (a.k.a. corvina), with its pan-seared crust and saffron risotto, is a delectable house specialty. They also have a nice selection of flatbreads.

25 E 1st St, Morgan Hill
This quaint downtown Morgan Hill spot is run by Italian ex-pat Maurizio Cutrignelli. His culinary training began in Bari, Italy at the ripe-old age of 15. Maurizio’s focuses on classic Italian favorites, such as the rotelle di Parma and tortellini con prosciutto, and has a small yet robust selection of Italian and local wines that pair perfectly with any order.

Pizzetta 408
387 S First St Ste 104, San Jose
The brainchild of local resident Dave Perez—whose culinary training includes being named “maestro” at the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) school in Naples, Italy—serves up authentic Neapolitan pizza, baked in a custom-built brick oven in the SoFA Market and made with simple ingredients and hand-tossed dough.

Doppio Zero
Multiple locations
Doppio Zero is one of only 18 pizzerias in the entire state of California that is AVPN certified—which essentially means that every nuance of the pizza-making process, from the ingredients to the cooking method, meets the lofty standards set forth by the Naples-based organization. There are other menu items: The Marechiaro is heaven on a plate.

Tony DiMaggio’s Pizza
3852 Monterey Hwy, San Jose
This longtime favorite of south siders has been serving up delicious home-cooked Italian grub for more than 40 years now, and they are still going strong. Tony D’s is an old-school spot that isn’t afraid to bring the flavor. Their signature dish is the stromboli, which comes out as long as my arm and oozes with cheese, salami, Italian sausage and just a hint of mustard.

Bertucelli’s La Villa
1319 Lincoln Ave, San Jose
This venerable Italian deli has been serving downtown Willow Glen since 1947, and it is packed with old-school charm. La Villa is known for their famous house-made cheese raviolis: soft, pillowy and blanketed in mouthwatering marinara,. Pro tip: They sell boxes of frozen ravs to take home.

3454 McKee Rd, San Jose
For over 30 years Antipasto’s has been providing a little East Coast Italian deli flair to San Jose’s Alum Rock neighborhood. They have a full-service market that sells the finest meats, cheeses and seafood around, and deli that has a 100-year-old pasta machine that cranks out handmade raviolis on a daily basis.

Dolce Spazio
221 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos
One of the first local places to serve a legit espresso, this adorable little café has been luring dessert lovers with their house-made gelato, sorbetto and various baked goods since 1980.

Chiaramonte’s Deli
609 N 13th St, San Jose
What can you say about a deli that’s been in business for well over 100 years? They must be doing something right. That something is their handmade Italian sausage made using great-grandfather Salvatore’s recipe from 1908.

Original Joe’s
301 S First St, San Jose
This descendent of the original OJ’s up in The City first graced the South Bay back in 1956, and it’s been one of Downtown’s cornerstone restaurants ever since. Their chicken parm and gigantic meatballs are renowned.

A Bellagio
33 S Central Ave, Campbell
Serving downtown Campbell since 2003, this upscale yet unpretentious restaurant is known for their authentic Italian cuisine and extensive wine list. Any of their fresh pasta dishes are a can’t-miss here: Their fettuccini Verdi Bolognese is served perfectly al dente and the sauce-to-meat ratio in the ragù is perfect.

Aldo Los Altos
388 Main St, Los Altos
Aldo’s owner and head chef Donatao De Marchi received his training at the Culinary Academy in Bellagio, Italy and was in business with Wolfgang Puck at one point in his career. He’s been serving up super-legit Italian cuisine for us lucky South Bayers since 2005. Their gnocchi with bolognese is world-class.

Vito’s Trattoria
90 Skyport Dr, San Jose
This hidden gem is located just a stone’s throw from SJC and prides itself on using only fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. The décor and ambiance are that of a high-end restaurant—but without the high-end prices, as most meal average around $15.